the Lagos State Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Olusegun Ogungbemide, has multiple unforgettable motoring stories to tell.
But the most scary of them was when, while driving at night, he stumbled on an oncoming Mercedes-Benz 911 truck, which he thought was a motorbike, because it had only one headlamp.
In this exclusive interview with ROTIMI ASHER of Motoring World International, he narrated how he escaped death on that fateful night. There was another experience – funny, but memorable. He also recalled how he learnt how to drive.
Doubtless, your job involves a lot of vehicular runs. Would I be correct to describe you as a car freak? Do you love cars?
Ogungbemide: (Laughter…) I am a car freak; I love cars. I started driving right from when I gained admission into the university. I think that was when I fell in love with FRSC.
How did you learn driving?
Ogungbemide: A friend taught me how to drive. I did not go to driving school. I was made to face VIO for the test. In those days, they will put drums at their testing range. And I had a Volkswagen Beetle. When they asked me to reverse in between the drums, I hit the drum. They gave me another two weeks to come back. Those were the days VIOs were VIOs.
Could you recall your worst driving experience ever?
Ogungbemide: I have had series by virtue of my job. We are always on the road, being transferred from one place to another. But there was a particular one, which I can never ever forget. I was travelling all the way from Ibadan to Eket, to report at a new duty post. It was night. Getting to a bridge before Eket, a Mercedes-Benz 911 truck faced me. It was around 8 pm. The truck had only one headlamp. So I thought it was a motorbike. The truth is that it took the man himself to veer off the road for me. Otherwise, the worst would have happened. I can never forget that day.
Another worse experience I had was when I was travelling from Ibadan to Lagos, where I was based then. As I got to Ogere, I did not know the kind of stress that entered me. There was traffic and my car was on a speedy reverse. I was holding the steering, only to realize that my car was actually stationary. I did not know that it was my brain on reverse.
I had that experience for the first time. And I was like: why will the vehicle be moving? Who is pressing the accelerator? It was when my brain calmed down, that I realized it was stress. I started adjusting to it, each time it happened. I had to see a doctor, who said I needed a rest.
What kind of car were you driving then?
Ogungbemide: It was a Toyota Highlander 2006?
Does it mean you like SUVs?
Ogungbemide: Yes, I love SUVs till tomorrow. When you see an Ibo man with an SUV, it might not be that he loves SUV. It could be that the road leading to his house is very rough.
But for me, I just love vehicles with high ground clearance. When it comes to issue of enjoying stable driving, of course, you would prefer a saloon, because it is close to the road. If you are driving an SUV and you are not a good driver, especially while negotiating a bend, you can easily lose control. But I love cars.
Tell me about your immediate family?
Ogungbemide: I am married with two children.
How do you relax since you have busy schedule as a Sector Commander?
Ogungbemide: In Lagos, since I took over till date, I don’t think I have created any recreation activity for myself, because it’s been from one issue to another. They are just following one another back to back. When I get home, I hit the bed and sleep.
Do you go to parties?
Ogungbemide: (Laughter…..) Which party? The unfortunate thing is that the sleep is not even there. I remember a night I got pissed off. I tried to sleep. And then my phone kept ringing. I put it on silence.
I will never forget that day. Throughout the night, my Corps Marshal was calling me, because there was an inferno at Anthony. But he was calling my private line. Because I was so tired, I wasn’t ready to pick any private call, especially as I did’t know it was an official call ringing through my private line. I just wanted to sleep. You can imagine the fear that will go into his mind, probably thinking: “Is this the man I sent to Lagos? When Lagos is burning, he is sleeping.”
I never thought he would call my private line. My official line was on. Unfortunately for me, he called my private line. But we were able to manage the situation the following day. Thank God, the casualty rate was minimal.
Being in Lagos and having recreation is like demanding for an Elephant’s head.
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